The Uploaded by Ferrett Steinmetz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve been keeping up with Ferrett Steinmetz for over 15 years on various internet platforms, and I’ve been jumping at the chance to read his books ever since he got an agent and was able to publish traditionally. His Flex series is a solid read across three books, and perhaps should have gotten more attention than they ended up receiving, but The Uploaded is Steinmetz’s shot at techno-dystopia. It… doesn’t always work.
Effectively, imagine if, instead of Social Security, the older folks moved their consciousness online instead. And they still got to run things, and it was up to the rest of us to maintain their servers and their way of life until it was out turn. That’s the idea behind this story, which follows some people who are willing to fight to undo the status quo.
The good on this is that, as with the Flex trilogy (and with some insight on how Steinmetz writes), there’s really not a wasted word here. The poetic-yet-seemingly-direct way he gets the plot from point A to point B is as much of a joy here as it was in his previous works. The issue, though, is that this is less of a story that lends itself to that sort of treatment. The Uploaded is reminiscent a lot of the sort of Cory Doctorow technopunk that has really hit home in the last few years, and the writing doesn’t always fit it. This means that the book does feel like it’s meandering off a bit in ways that were not probably intended. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the way that everything works out kept me engaged, but it’s not the same as Flex and doesn’t quite hit the same notes the same way as other books in this genre.
I don’t want to call it a miss, because the book still has its share of action and awesomeness. It’s just not great the way the Flex series was, and it’s just quite good in a lot of others. If the concept grabs you, the book probably will as well, but this is not as direct a recommendation for this book the way others might be. Dystopia, especially today, can be a tough sell, and the book makes a good attempt at being up to the challenge. Closer to a 3.5.
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